Monday, October 22, 2007

Doggerel #129: "The Right!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

Just like there are woos on the right who complain about the left, there are woos on the left who complain about the right. And both are usually willing to label any skeptic as part of the opposition, regardless of their actual political views.

But, of course, that's a subject change: The scientific method has a habit of depoliticizing the results. No matter what political party you belong to, an experiment will generally get the same results under the same protocols.

I often find myself being attacked as an alleged conservative (and specifically pro-Bush) whenever 9/11 twoofers come up, erecting straw men claiming that I blindly agree with anything Bush says. Of course, I have a hard time agreeing with anything he says, but that's a different topic altogether. Whether the twoofers or Bush like it or not, the science behind the investigations is pretty solid. Nothing requires explanation with space lasers, magically silenced explosives, or super stealth ninja demolition experts. The fact that Bush was involved doesn't magically negate the laws of physics, the validity of research methods, or make plausible the administrative nightmare of covering up a highly visible event.

The other times I find myself accused of being on the right is when I'm defending real medicine and attacking quackery. Like it or not, demanding rigor for testing potential life-or-death products, transparency, and accountability are something most people are supposed to be able to agree on. I can only imagine someone who goes by an exceptionally hard line version of "caveat emptor" would object to it.

Skepticism tends to be conservative, but only in the non-political sense of the word: If an existing explanation isn't broken, don't fix it or replace it unnecessarily. Woos, however, just don't seem to be at all interested in proving the break before jumping to "new" conclusions.

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